IF YOU GET LOST – My Debut Picture Book! YAY!!!

Hi, friends! So, I finally have some more great news to share, and a story.

Some of you may know that when I first started writing for kids, I wrote picture book manuscripts, not novels. In fact, in my pre-agented days, I would send out my picture books to small publishing houses, and more than once my manuscripts would be taken to acquisitions meetings… and then, nothing. Over and over again. I loved those picture book babies so much, and it really did break my heart each time another one would languish. Like, actual ache in my chest kind of heartbreak.

So I started turning them into novels. Both Nightingale’s Nest and Wish Girl were actually grown from the seeds of picture books that I had loved and couldn’t give up on.

I kept writing picture books over the years (and calling them poems, and relegating them to a file on my laptop called Greeting Cards. Long story.), but it wasn’t until my agent Ginger K. expressed an interest in seeing one that this happened:

43633-1.JPGAnne Schwartz at Random House/Schwartz has acquired, at auction, North American rights for If You Get Lost by Nikki Loftin (l.) (Wish Girl), illustrated by Deborah Marcero (In a Jar). This picture book debut from the author tells the story of a stuffed bunny who falls from a car window at the start of her family’s camping trip, and begins a magical adventure through the forest to find her way back. Publication is set for summer 2023. Ginger Knowlton at Curtis Brown represented the author, and Laura Rennert at Andrea Brown Literary represented the illustrator.

In just a few short weeks – days, almost! – I went from dreaming about having a picture book of my own out in the world, to finding out multiple editors also thought the manuscript was worthy, to realizing my very first Baby Author Nikki dream was going to come true. Anne Schwartz at Random House Children’s Books made my heart flutter when she signed the book, found the perfect artist for the project (Have you seen Deborah Marcero’s work? Holy wow! Her books – they’re brilliant, and the art is stunning), and now all I can do is dance around the house and wonder at my good fortune.

Well, and write more picture books, because my heart? Isn’t quite as broken as it once was. Not quite.

I hope one of your dreams comes true soon. Keep writing, and reading, and holding your heart together as best you can.





Re-Imagining a Fairy Tale (A Video For Young Writers)

Hi, y’all! The pandemic is keeping kids out of the classrooms, but thanks to the Writers’ League of Texas and Project WISE, young writers everywhere can be educated/horrified/traumatized/enlightened AT HOME by yours truly!

I hope you enjoy these 27 minutes of Creepy Author Nikki.

I’ll admit, I’m a little punchy mid-quarantine. But hey! I wore pants for this! And lipstick! And it might be funny enough to get some bored kids back to the page… I hope so, at least. Let me know if it does – I’d love to hear about your Quarantine Kids’ work.

Thanks for watching and sharing. Stay safe and stay home!





Pandemic Poem-A-Day: Fireflies

Hi friends! I hope you are all staying well. I’ve been reading voraciously (is there such a thing as too much reading? I may find out soon), and revising and writing. The best thing to come out of the pandemic at my house is the poetry. Every day, or at least most days, I try to sit with an empty page, stare out the window, and let the poetry arrive in search of me, as Neruda might say.

I can’t share much of the new poetry, as it’s still cooking, but some very nice things have been happening with some of last year’s crop! Including this lovely moment, where my poem Fireflies appears as the poem of the day on a lovely blog.

Okay, okay. I can’t help myself. I’ll share a few words of a poem in progress… the first few lines of a thing that won’t stop whispering.


Long ago

when the

world was quiet

the night was dark

and we dreamed

with our eyes wide,

the stars were maps.


Now go, and write, and be ready when the unformed poem arrives, breathless, waiting for you.




Graphic Novels Galore, and More: The Texas Book Festival!

Hi, y’all! If you’ve spent any time with me, you know how I feel about graphic novels. They were the reason my younger son got hooked on reading in elementary school when novels weren’t working for him, and he never fell out of love with them. We read them obsessively, and those years were some of my happiest ones as a reader and mom. When the recent upsurge in graphic novels on the bestseller lists started, we all did a happy dance in this household!

So when I got the email asking if I would moderate a panel at the Texas Book Festival, featuring Raina Telgemeier, Molly Knox Ostertag, and Gale Galligan, I SWOONED. Yes, you know it – I won the moderator lottery, and I’m going to have to bring my A+++ game to make sure all three of these legitimately rock-star-status graphic novelists have the chance to shine their brightest for our young Texas readers.

If you are interested in the panel (AND YOU SHOULD BE), here’s the link to the details including time and place: Saturday, October 26, at 10-10:45 am at the First United Methodist Church, 1202 Lavaca Street, Austin, in the Murcheson Chapel. Book signing to follow from 11-12!

And here are the books we’re featuring, which will be for sale through Bookpeople at the Texas Book Festival all weekend! (But get your copies at the festival early, as these are gonna go like hotcakes.)


I hope to see you all there!


I have been reading a few others that I think are wonderful, and I’ll post their covers as well.

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell

Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks

Hey Kiddo by Jarrett J. Krosoczka




Young Writer’s Workshop at Lark and Owl Booksellers and More Events


I’ve been loving my social media free-summer so far, but I wanted to check back in to let any readers out there in the Central Texas area know about a great new bookstore and a free writing workshop I’m doing there next week!

Lark and Owl Booksellers has graciously invited me to do a signing and short fairy tale writing workshop for young writers at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, July 31st. Come by to write, listen, and buy a book – any book! Details at the link.

I hope to see you there, and to thank you for reading this far, I want to give a couple of heads-ups for other great book release/launches coming to town. In fact, the other events are all on the SAME DAY at Bookpeople in Austin, and they include FOUR of my favorite authors in the world. <3

First, on August 10, Kathi Appelt, Varsha Bajaj, and Carmen Oliver will bring a Picture Book Celebration to town with a  triple book launch at 2 p.m.


And then the amazing Christian Soontornvat will introduce her new Scholastic series, Dairy of an Ice Princess, at 5 p.m.


STEM and princesses? Oh heck yeah.

I hope to see you there as well!

Happy Summer,


School Visit Fun: RJS STEM Makes the News

Howdy, y’all!

I am just back from Whidbey Island, where I spent a week writing in one of the most beautiful places on earth!

I came thisclose to finishing a draft of a new novel, and that made me very happy.

What makes me happy today was an email from the lovely Ms. Drake at Roy J Smith STEM Academy in Killeen, Texas, where I had the great good fortune to present writing workshop and author talks in early April, along with my friend PJ Hoover!

It was a glorious day, and they welcomed us so nicely…


and then the newspaper did this lovely article!

Feeling pretty fancy. 🙂

Y’all, have a wonderful April, and write what your heart tells you to.


Texas Writes at the Lake Dallas Public Library

Happy Almost Spring!

I’ve been writing up a storm, taking a few breaks now and then for super fun things like school visits, workshops, and festivals. And now, if you live in the Dallas area, I might get to take a break to see YOU!

On Saturday, March 9, 2019, at 10 a.m., I will be at the Lake Dallas Public Library along with renowned poet/author/editor/activist ire’ne lara silva, as a part of the Writers’ League of Texas’ Texas Writes program.

Join us for a morning of discussion, writing exercises, book talking, and cookies. I’d love to see you there.

Coming Soon! The 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in San Antonio

Happy 2019, writer and reader friends! I hope your year is full of books… and maybe even a few short films. 🙂

Once again, I have the great pleasure of co-hosting the annual 90-Second Newbery Film Festival in San Antonio, alongside the funny and talented James Kennedy (author of The Order of Odd-Fish). We sing, we dance, we make terrible jokes and have altogether too much fun. This year, the shindig is on February 9, 2-3:30 pm at the Witte Museum!

If you are from the San Antonio area, or know folks who are, you don’t want to miss this! Kids read Newbery award and honor books, write and produce short films that are hilarious/spooky/heartwarming/silly, and the best of the best are chosen to win prizes for their schools and libraries, courtesy of HEB.

Come to the film festival! Say hi to me and James and meet tomorrow’s famous Hollywood directors.

You can get tickets here.

Now, back to the writing!

Spooky Story Celebration at Bookpeople, 10/20!

Join Kat and me for a writing and craft-filled workshop sure to scare the stories out of you!


Are you a young writer (or know a young writer) in search of the perfect creepy tale to tell?

Join the amazing Kat Shepherd and me for a writing and craft-filled workshop sure to scare the stories out of you! There will be creepy snacks, lots of fun, and just the right amount of scare… go to Bookpeople’s event page to register.


Houston SCBWI 2018 Conference/Book Recs

Howdy, y’all!

I am excited about this weekend (September 28-30), since it means I’ll be in Houston at their amazing SCBWI conference teaching and learning and playing with all my big city writer friends. I’m giving a mini-workshop on writing unforgettable settings. In addition to talking about what I call Big Settings in Children’s Books (including, of course, Narnia, Hogwarts, Terabithia, and more), I’ll be bringing some newer books that treat setting in masterful and unique ways, including:



I hope to see you there! Keep writing – I sure have been. 🙂